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Home » 2008 NewsApril 2008 » Ceremonial First Pitch

Ceremonial First Pitch

Beneath a crisp blue sky and choreographed to a soaring soundtrack performed by the Boston Pops the 2007 World Champions received their rings today at Fenway.

Banners for the five previous championships, 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, dropped in sequence. Just as it had three years ago, the enormous 2004 banner unrolled over the entire left field wall. Then the 2007 banner unfurled, battling against updrafts to billow stubbornly before settling.

Greats from the Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots brought their respective trophies with the rings to a table. Johnny Bucyk had the heftiest burden and made no show of taking the shortest route possible to respite. Bill Russell, Danny Ainge, John Havlicek, Bobby Orr, and Tedy Bruschi were among the attendees.

Representing the 2004 Red Sox were Brian Daubach, Curtis Leskanic, and David McCarty. Johnny Pesky did not call Leskanic a son of bitch on camera, but later Number Six managed to slip in a “goddamn” while hoisting a smaller version of the 2007 banner up the flagpole in center field.

This time Carl Beane did not announce each coach, staff, or player’s name this time, nor did Terry Cashman sing a Red Sox version of “Talkin’ Baseball.”

Instead, recognizable movie themes were timed with players’ entrances:

  • Superman: Pesky and Jason Varitek
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark: Josh Beckett
  • James Bond: Kevin Youkilis
  • Star Wars: Manny Ramirez
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Bullpen
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston: Jonathan Papelbon
  • Dirty Water: David Ortiz

While walking towards the flagpole to Ramirez and Royce Clayton were in profound conversation. “Manny’s telling him he can get a lot of money for the ring on eBay,” quipped my friend.

During the playing of the anthem, one Boston Pops member turned around to take a picture of the United States flag on the wall.

From behind that flag Bill Buckner emerged. The ovation was lovingly long. He made his long walk from the wall to the mound, obviously moved but at a loss as to how to respond. His hands alternated between being tucked in his pockets and wiping away tears. As he stood on the mound he murmured quiet “thank yous.” After tossing a strike to Dwight Evans they hugged. Years of misplaced blame were purged in those few precious moments.

Pesky stood at the microphone with his bat on his shoulder. As a proper gentleman should before undertaking any task of great import he doffed his cap. “Let’s play ball.”

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